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Training Across Boundaries: The Role of Interfirm Customer Training in B2B Relationships

The emergence of terms such as "buyer's university", "customer training center", or "skill center" point to the growing importance of supplier-led customer training initiatives in B2B firms that enable customers to gain the greatest possible value from the suppliers' offerings. The present research employs grounded theory and theories-in-use approaches, with 34 expert interviews, to forward a conceptual framework on interfirm customer training. Respondents view interfirm customer training as a structured and formal process that the supplier deploys to improve the customer's knowledge, skills, and abilities to use a supplier's offering and understand the suppliers' processes. The study reveals that customer training can lead to positive customer and supplier outcomes. However, the effectiveness of customer training depends on various factors such as employee reluctance, customer turnover, and fear of know-how loss. The study provides managers with important insights on their customer training initiatives and advances the literature on interfirm training.